FDA proposal could affect Triad brewers, farmers

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The US Food and Drug Administration has proposed a new regulation that could make it more difficult for brewers to give spent grains to farmers.

Mike Rollinson, Director of Pub Brewing Operations at Natty Greene’s in Greensboro, says spent grains are the by-product of the brewing process.

“We create 2,500 to 4,000 pounds of spent grain every week,” said Rollinson.

For brewers, spent grain is trash. But for farmers, it’s food for livestock.

“It’s a source of protein that I would have to buy,” said V. Mac Baldwin, owner of Baldwin Beef.

Baldwin raises grass-fed steer, but he picks up spent grains from Natty Greene’s twice a week to feed female breeding cattle.

In an effort to prevent food-borne illnesses in animals, a new FDA regulation would force breweries to meet the same standards as pet food manufacturers. That means processing, testing, and packaging the grains. The alternative would be throwing the spent grains away in landfills.

“I can’t see a single benefit. Not one. It’s all negative,” said Baldwin.

Baldwin says the regulations would end up costing brewers and farmers.

“It’s good enough for humans on the beer end, so I don’t understand why isn’t not good enough for cows. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense,” said Rollinson.

The FDA sent a statement to FOX8 regarding the proposal Tuesday:

“We recognize this is an area that should be addressed, and we are confident we will find a common-sense solution. FDA’s current understanding is that the potential hazards associated with spent grains from brewers and distillers are minimal. The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act directs the FDA to provide sufficient flexibility to be practicable for all types of facilities, to acknowledge differences in risks, and to minimize, as appropriate, the number of separate standards that apply to separate foods. The FDA is reviewing three rules that we proposed — the proposed produce safety rule, the proposed preventive controls rule for human food, and the proposed preventive controls rule for animal food to avoid unnecessary, inconsistent, or duplicative requirements. We expect brewers and distillers to take reasonable measures to protect food for animals from chemical and physical hazards, and will address the issue in forthcoming reproposals.”